Disclaimer: X-files, Mulder, Scully, Doggett , etc. belong to Chris Carter and 1013 not me. Used without permission.
This vignette is set directly after TINH (after Mulder's found dead in the woods). I wrote this in 2001.
"No ... Sir, let me," Agent Doggett put a thin hand on Skinner's shoulder. He felt the cords of muscle twist as Skinner turned on him. The director's gaze bled anger and frustration. "I'll get her." Doggett gestured towards her motel room with the crumpled brown bag in his hand. He thought he saw relief invade Skinner's normally stone-like features. The man was emotionally spent and didn't like that Doggett knew it.
"Car's out front," was all he said. Doggett nodded his understanding. And gratitude. Her door was paint-chipped and old, a tarnished bronze number four dangled from a single rusty screw. He had been knocking for at least five minutes but there were no sounds from the room. No evidence that she was even awake. He finally tried the door and was surprised to feel the latch give.
"Agent Scully?" he said quietly as he slipped into her room. The bed was unslept in, perfect as it had been made up the previous day. Her stuff was around though, a small neatly done up suitcase and a well-traveled duffel bag. There was a thin line of amber light angling across the floor from the partially open bathroom door. He hesitated briefly but knew what he would find in the room. At least he thought he could read people well enough by now.
The brush of his hand against the warm wood was enough to ease it open. He was greeted by the crumpled forms of three towels, soaked and strewn about the floor. The tiny window was only partially fogged. The mirror sweated quietly.
The shower dripped.
He stepped around the towels and water on the floor and smeared his hand along the window, removing the damp haze.
She was easier to see than he'd thought. A tiny patch of fire-red stood out among the monotonous gold and brown woods a short distance behind the motel. Seeing her shook his resolve. Her back was to him, her shoulders hunched as she sat rather awkwardly on the decaying remains of a fallen tree. The picture read 'do not disturb'. Scully had always been professional and even a little cold around him. He'd always known what to expect from her but not this morning. He would handle it. He had to.
Looking at the bag in his hand and then surveying the living area, he decided to drape her coat over the same arm. He left the room as he found it.
The air, flirting with the freezing mark, was bitter and damp. The dew-laden grass crunched almost imperceptibly beneath his feet as he circled the motel. He headed towards a weather beaten patch of trees, aiming for the orange-red blur of his partner's lowered head. His breath puffed into thin white clouds that lost all form in the wind. He stuffed his free hand into his pocket.
Stopping a few feet behind her, he let her acknowledge him when and if she was inclined. He could see that her hands were pale with cold. As the thin sweater she wore was useless against the wind her body curved tightly in on itself. She turned her head to direct a swollen, tear-blurred eye somewhere near his feet then turned away, dragging stiff fingers over her face.
Doggett set the paper bag down and unfolded her coat, draping it lightly over her shoulders. He couldn't feel any warmth from her skin through the thin material. Recapturing the bag, he slowly lowered himself onto the cold bark beside her. She tilted her head away immediately, working a tear damaged kleenex between her fingers.
"Have you eaten anything?" he asked quietly. She looked up then and examined the cloud heavy sky; a quiet "no" slipped past her bluish lips. The noise of the bag opening seemed loud and intrusive as he pulled out a small tub of yogurt and a plastic spoon. "There was only peach. The date's ok." He ripped off the top foil, dropped in the spoon and offered it to her.
She took it faster than he expected, but then he didn't know what it was like to be pregnant and hungry. Her unborn child, somewhat protected from guilt and sorrow, needed only to live and grow.
A thank you was unnecessary and she didn't offer one. She ate and he tried to see what she was seeing as she stared out at the landscape. He doubted she was seeing it at all.
"I won't be going," she said finally, her voice dry and throaty. Her spoon scraped her remaining breakfast from the cup. He leaned forward and tried to catch her eye.
"Plane's booked. Skinner's in the car," he paused before adding "funeral's tomorrow"
She turned her head and met his gaze full on. Her eyes were murky, pink and swollen, her cheeks flushed from the cold. Fine red hairs clung to the moisture on her face where they had been scattered by the wind. "No ... John..." she gestured slightly towards the woods in the far distance. "I'll be there. It doesn't matter when I leave or where I go," she searched his eyes, begging his understanding, and finished in a bruised whisper, "I'll be there." Raw Scully. It hit hard.
"With him," Doggett added. He met her eyes with the same intensity he would their toughest suspect. It was his only defense. The corners of her lips curved downward and she shrugged slightly, dropping her head to study the empty cup in her hands. Doggett reached out and slid a finger beneath the thin cross hanging against her neck. "But you don't believe he's there," he said.
"Yeah," she said almost incredulously, "but I can't forget ... what I saw in those woods." She was shaking her head as if trying to shake the image from her mind. "My beliefs ... my hope..." she looked as if she were trying to hold the words back but exhaustion forced them and he strained to hear, " ... my heart ... lost there." An image from that night, the night they'd found him, slid into his mind's eye unbidden. Scully's red hair splayed over Mulder's bare chest, her sobs forcing the men around her to turn away. Guilty to be there to hear them.
Even Skinner couldn't hold back.
He could see tears lining the edges of her face but she continued, "I would have done anything if it meant getting him back but... I didn't even get a chance. And now..." her voice faltered and he watched as her right hand slid to caress the slight swell of her stomach. Any doubts he may have had as to the paternity of Scully's child evaporated then and there.
"But you still have him," he said carefully. "Mulder." Her hand left her abdomen so quickly he almost didn't see it. "Knowing him," he said quickly, "changed you. You have more now than if you hadn't had him at all." There were tears on his face now, but not for Mulder. "I know it doesn't help." He brushed them away quickly with the cold fabric of his sleeve.
Doggett wanted to reach out to her, to wrap an arm around her shaking shoulders. But he knew he couldn't. The man who'd had that kind of permission was gone.
Scully calmed on her own. It hurt him to realize that she'd had a lot of practice.
"I lost a son," he heard himself saying. She had told him more than she'd ever intended; he felt he owed her the same exposure. "There were no skills or resources that could have changed the outcome. I know that kind of rage. It'll take you if you let it." He found himself staring hard at the landscape.
"I'm sorry," she breathed.
"It's been a long time," he said quickly, not wanting to add his sorrow to hers.
Her arms found the sleeves of her jacket and she dragged the long abused kleenex carefully over her reddened features before stuffing it in her pocket. She rubbed her hands over her thighs to warm them. "Mulder once said that if he quit, they'd win. I promised that day that I would fight with him," she closed her eyes and continued slowly as if the idea was barely formed, "not for him. I can't." Doggett wished that he had known Mulder, that he could have seen him with his Scully. It would have been one hell of a sight.
"It's too early, Scully. Take some time"
"I don't need any," she said irritably. He could tell that she was lying but for now she believed that lie. "We don't have what Mulder had."
He didn't hesitate.
"And Mulder had nothing, without you." Skinner himself had told him that Mulder would have been lost a long time ago if it weren't for her. He also said it'd been a two way street.
He felt rather than heard Scully's deep intake of breath beside him. She stood up slowly, her feet cold and unsteady. She took a long, hard look at the line of dust coloured trees in the distance, turned and forced her legs to move. He fell into step beside her and though he could hear the soft crunch of her slight footsteps in the grass, he knew that she wasn't beside him.
She was out there In the woods.